Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Uncovering Your Needs

As office environments and technology evolve, there are many areas to consider for companies.  This is also where the differences in how this job is done, wins and loses opportunities and separates me from my competitors.  A simple example that I see every day is the wants and needs with in a company.  These are usually so different from one department to another- odd, yet exactly how these folks symbiotically exist together.  I recently experienced this with an owner and staff of a small/medium sized company. They didn't even realize the uniqueness of their needs until I brought it up during the meeting:

The group included the president, IT manager, head book keeper, marketing manager and office manager.  The six of us sat down and I asked "if I could take notes to ensure that I could learn as much as possible as I don't spend nine hours a day, five days a week in their office."  As suspected, they said "please do."

After and hour and numerous topics that I brought up for the group to discuss- I finally said "here's what I heard- and please correct me where I'm wrong:"

"You Mr. Owner have three real priorities that I believe fall in the following order:  financial commitment to the new solution as #1.  Acquiring a reliable system that keeps the troops happy and is a better unit than the current one."

"Mr. Information Technology Manager: you want anything that comes on your network to be up to today's standards, will accommodate the next planned update and never causes you any network issues."

"Mrs. Marketing Manager: you need the VERY best quality, all affordable options for punching, folding, etc. and not only need it fast for your deadlines, but need it reliably so you don't have any other challenges to meet your needs."

"Mrs. Office Manager:  you are the main user and want speed, functionality, top notch training and although it will hiccup, you need a service organization that is timely and tremendously efficient so the technician not only has the parts, but doesn't come back for the same issue 2-3 times."

"And finally Mrs. Accountant:  you've been very clear that none of these things really matter to you.  You need simple, concise and clear monthly bills so you can track, invoice projects for cost recovery and ensure that all $ are accounted for to the penny."

There was a long silence... finally the President said "I bet none of us really considered how diverse the other's requirements are and we surely didn't communicate this the last go around when we looked at office equipment.  Please coordinate to have the system you recommend to be brought into our office with IT and the office manager and send me the numbers and some references I can check."

He and the IT manager left the room, the others stayed and we continued to talk for another 15 minutes about how I could positively impact their work.  At the end I agreed to send the accounting manager a sample billing and how we can track jobs.   The marketing manager  wanted to see some proof files in advance and the office manager wanted to know how fast and how many features I could put on the demonstration unit for their office. 

Most of my job, once I find an opportunity, can be done by asking a ton of questions, listening for a long time- then circling back around to ensure that all the bases are covered- even the ones "they" didn't know needed covering.

Scott Plemmons - CTX Market Director 

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